Representing Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax

Newsletter - May 1, 2020

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Alexandria Office:
301 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314
571.234.8481

DelMLevine@house.virginia.gov

I wanted to share with you some updates on the COVID-19 crisis. I've edited my Coronavirus page to reflect what's below. If you need help that is not provided on that page, please don't hesitate to contact my office. We will do our best to promptly respond to your needs.

In this email, I share:

  • some good news about Virginia's COVID-19 testing capacity;
  • some new policy developments that Governor Northam announced during his public briefing on Wednesday, April 29; and
  • some important information from Inova, including their new location for tests in Old Town Alexandria

Some Good (or, at least, Better) News:
We're Ramping up Testing in Virginia

According to numbers from the Virginia Department of Health, more people were tested for COVID-19 on April 29 and April 30 than any days so far. Over 5,500 Virginians a day were tested.  I've been critical of our lack of testing for about six weeks now, and so I'm glad to see us finally ramping up tests to reach a goal of at least 10,000 a day. We finally have enough test kits, reagent, personal protective equipment (PPE), and quick turnaround times to really step it up. I strongly believe widespread testing is an absolute condition precedent to opening up Virginia for business.

The Governor has also announced that these daily reports, available on the Virginia Department of Health's website, will have more granular data - including the number of cases by zip code - soon.  That was another request of mine. So I'm pleased to report it was granted.


 Two Policy Updates from Governor Northam 

Governor Northam gives press conferences to update Virginia on his Administration's effort to combat the novel coronavirus every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 2 pm. So tune in today at 2 pm on the Governor's facebook page or on Virginia Public Media's Youtube channel.

At his public briefing on Wednesday, April 29, which you can view by clicking here, Governor Northam announced two important policy updates:

1. Governor Northam's ban on elective surgeries and dental procedures has ended beginning today.

The Governor had put that ban in place to ensure that hospitals had the capacity they needed to treat the expected influx of COVID-19 patients. As social distancing is working, we have room in our hospitals to treat more people in need.

2. Governor Northam also announced new relief efforts for student loans borrowers.

The federal CARES Act allowed many individuals to suspend payments on student loans during this pandemic. However this only applied to people with certain US-government owned loans. As of this week, ​Virginia is joining a number of other states in an initiative to help over 200,000 Virginians who have student loans. Lenders will provide a minimum of 90 days forbearance on loans, waive late payment fees and commit to other actions. More details available here.

Borrowers can visit the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid or call Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243 or 1-800-730-8913 (TDD) to determine the types of federal loans they have and who their servicers are. Borrowers with private student loans can check their monthly billing statements for contact information. Borrowers can also file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau here.

Borrowers experiencing trouble with their student loan servicer or looking to better understand the implications of these relief options are encouraged to contact Virginia’s Student Loan Advocate at studentloan@schev.edu or (804) 786-2832.

For additional information about relief options for federal loan borrowers, visit schev.edu/studentloan.


Important Updates from Inova
including
testing in Old Town

Having spoken with Inova, I'm confident that, at least for the foreseeable future, they have sufficient beds, ventilators, PPE, and blood to treat anyone who walks in their doors and to test anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19.

If you live in the 45th District, believe you may have COVID-19, and have had trouble getting a test, please reach out to our office and we will advocate for you.

But, of course, please call your regular doctor first if you have one.

Below I am directly sharing information (highlighted) I have recently received from Inova leaders. Although they advise you to see your regular physician first -- and you should -- if you don't have a regular physician, you can still get a free test. So please don't hesitate to reach out if you are uninsured or in need of help.

Testing Capabilities and Capacity

Our work to facilitate and implement in-house testing, partner with private labs to expedite results for priority tests, and access rapid testing equipment has improved testing efficiency, however it is important to note that testing kits, reagents, and other supplies remain on allocation as part of a nationwide supply chain challenge. Testing capacity remains limited due to these factors. At this time, only those individuals who meet Inova’s current testing criteria will be tested.

Additionally, Inova is performing COVID-19 screening/testing regardless of symptoms for all patients admitted from, or being discharged to, a nursing facility, as well as for all labor and delivery patients.

Preparing to Resume Non-Urgent Surgical Procedures

Beginning Friday, May 1, Inova’s hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers plan to resume non-urgent/elective procedures using a measured approach. Inova suspended elective surgical procedures in March to ensure patient safety and preserve key resources, prior to Governor Northam’s Order of Public Health Emergency suspending elective procedures statewide. In the interim, Inova has established a non-urgent surgical workflow to ensure we maintain the inpatient capacity and critical resource capability to safely and appropriately care for all patients at our facilities. This includes personal protective equipment, testing availability, staffing, etc. 
 
While we are prepared to resume elective procedures on May 1, Inova’s number one priority remains the safety of patients while simultaneously protecting our teams, conserving PPE and assuring we maintain a constant state of readiness.

For more information, please watch the linked video from Dr. Steve Motew, Chief of Inova’s Clinical Enterprise, on how Inova is prioritizing safety in our return to non-urgent/elective procedures.

What should I do if I have COVID-19 symptoms?

  • Seek advice from your regular healthcare provider to determine if a medical evaluation is needed.
  • If you feel it is an emergency, contact a local urgent care center, Respiratory Illness Clinic, or emergency room. Ask for instructions regarding accessing the facility;
  • Practice “social distancing” by avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet) from others when possible;
  • If you are experiencing a fever or symptoms of respiratory infection, such as cough or difficulty breathing, or had exposure to a COVID-19 patient and traveled to a high-risk area classified by the CDC, please contact Inova at 855-IMG-DOCS so we can assist you and arrange a clinic appointment if needed. Unless it is an emergency, please do not show up at an Inova site for COVID-19 screening without calling ahead.

Is COVID-19 testing available through Inova?

Yes, testing is available across Inova Health System based on clinical criteria outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virginia Department of Health.

Inova has established Respiratory Illness Clinics to evaluate all patients with respiratory illness symptoms. These clinics will also be able to collect samples via physician ordered and coordinated vehicle-side appointments for COVID-19 testing. All Inova Hospital and HealthPlex emergency rooms are a resource for those individuals who are experiencing clinical symptoms of COVID-19 that include cough, fever and shortness of breath.

Please see the following hours and status for Inova Respiratory Illness Clinics and Urgent Care Centers:

  • Inova Urgent Care Centers at Dulles South, Tysons and North Arlington are operating as Respiratory Illness Clinics and only evaluating patients with respiratory illness symptoms.
    • North Arlington Respiratory Illness Clinic is operating Monday-Friday from 8AM-8PM
    • Inova Primary Care – Old Town Alexandria operates as a Respiratory Illness Clinic *by appointment only* Monday-Friday from 1PM-4:30PM. To schedule a respiratory evaluation at the Old Town office, patients should call (703) 683-7220.  
    • Our Respiratory Illness Clinics are able to collect samples via physician ordered and coordinated vehicle-side appointments for COVID-19 testing, as well as screen patients for COVID-19 symptoms. For more information, visit the Inova Respiratory Illness Clinic webpage.
    • All other Inova Urgent Care Locations are seeing non-respiratory patients only. For addresses and hours, visit the Inova Urgent Care webpage.

Before visiting any Inova Respiratory Illness Clinic, take the following steps:

1. Contact your regular physician for evaluation.  For assistance with recommendations, to arrange for a physician appointment, or if you do not have a primary care physician, call 1-855-IMG-DOCS.

2. Your regular physician should evaluate your symptoms to determine if testing is needed based on COVID-19 testing criteria, provide a testing order, and coordinate your referral to the Inova Respiratory Illness Clinic for evaluation.

3. Upon arrival at the Inova Respiratory Illness Clinic, a clinician will greet the patient at their vehicle to collect samples for a physician-ordered test, or escort the patient into the respiratory clinic for evaluation.

4. For patients who undergo COVID-19 testing, an Inova nurse will contact those whose results are negative. For patients with positive results, an Inova nurse will coordinate with the patient’s regular physician for notification and further instructions. Patients who are tested can expect results in roughly 2-4 days.

5. Visit the Inova Respiratory Illness Clinic webpage for more information.

Inova Urgent Care – N. Arlington (8AM-8PM, Monday-Friday)
4600 Lee Hwy.
Arlington, VA  22207
571-492-3080

Inova Primary Care – Old Town Alexandria (By Appointment Only, 1:00-4:30 PM, Monday-Friday)
325 South Washington Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
703-683-7220


New Resources Page from
the Department of Social Services

Virginia's Department of Social Services, in collaboration with the Joint Information Center, has established a website to help individuals and businesses find resources to help cope with the impacts from COVID-19: 
 
For individuals, this website can help answer questions relating to:
  • Food assistance
  • Child care
  • Joblessness
  • Health insurance
  • Bill payment
  • Stress management
  • Personal health and safety
For businesses, this website can help answer questions relating to:
  • Small business loans
  • Tax payments
  • Employee obligations
  • Sanitation and cleaning recommendations
  • Elder care facilities
  • Child care facilities

Below please find some other helpful resources:


Virginia's Medical Reserve Corps Needs YOU!

*Please reach out to your friends and family members if they can assist.

There is a statewide effort in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Health’s Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) to recruit medical and non-medical volunteers in the fight against COVID-19. It is estimated up to 30,000 volunteers are needed to provide support for the expected surge in hospitals and long-term care facilities throughout the Commonwealth. The Office of the Governor and the MRC are working with colleges and universities to reach out to students, especially those enrolled in health and medical degree programs.

The administration is also reaching out to individuals who have recently filed for unemployment benefits and have relevant experience, and is coordinating with hospitals, health systems, and professional associations to help recruit their community members...For more information or sign up to become an MRC volunteer, please visit vamrc.org.   

As always, we're working hard to share all the latest COVID-19 information on my website's Coronavirus Page.

If information is not there, let us know and we can find it, we'll add it.


Stories from the 2020 Session 

Although I've written at length about the Fate of My Bills, you should also know I copatroned a very long list of bills, 158 to be exact (if I counted right), not including commemorative resolutions. I won't attempt to describe them any more than give the title of the bill, but I thought you should see them all. We do a lot of work each session.

I've listed the first 50 of them here. Click on any one that interests you to learn more:

Legislation as Co-Patron:


My Post-Session Postal Letter

I also just finished drafting my 22-page post-session postal letter that I mail out to thousands of our constituents. For those of you who read my electronic newsletter (that means you!), you'll have already seen much (but not all) of it:  I describe coronavirus resources, the budget, upcoming elections, our historic legislative session, redistricting, and the fate of my bills.

So if and when you receive this letter in the mail, please understand that I wrote at length there because thousands of households I represent don't receive what you read here. I only send it out once a year. That's why I send it to as many households as possible.

If you contribute now, you can help us meet our goal of raising $3,300 to pay for my annual postal newsletter. You can help us inform constituents who are not as well informed as you are. 

So far, exactly $1,990 dollars has been contributed. Thank you!  Donations ranged from $5 to $500. Thank you! We need to raise just $1,310 more to meet our goal. If you would prefer to send a check in the mail, just email here to receive the address.

Every dollar donated today and every check dated today (May 1) will go towards postage to mail my annual letter to constituents. Simply put, the more I receive in contributions the more people will be able to receive the letter.

So I really appreciate your support.


And I thank you again for the honor and privilege of representing you.

 

Delegate Mark Levine
Serving Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax in Virginia's 45th District